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Flutter vs. React Native: Which One to Choose?

Mobile has become an integral part of every person’s life these days. There are tons of mobile applications designed and developed to keep users engaged on their devices. Mobile app development is evolving to make it easier for developers to hit the markets faster than ever before.

There are two main Operating Systems for mobile apps - Android and iOS. To create an app for them, earlier, a company had to keep two separate codebases and update them separately. But now, thanks to frameworks such as Flutter and React Native, one can have a single codebase for their mobile applications.

As a mobile app developer, which framework should you choose for your latest mobile app development project? Let’s look at a comparison between React Native and Flutter – two hot cross-platform app development technologies that are currently trending.

What is Flutter?

Flutter is a software development kit (SDK) that allows you to build a beautiful app with a friendly user-interface for operating systems including iOS & Android for mobile applications, Mac OS for desktop applications, and the web (beta), from a single codebase. The latest version released in December 2019 is 1.12 and is written in the Dart language, which is developed by Google.

Flutter is one of Google’s UI toolkits that act as an essential instrument for many mobile app developers. The whole layered architecture can be easily customized for the best end-user experience.

Many high-profile organizations use Flutter for web and mobile app development. Some well-known companies/Products are: -

1.    Google Assistant   

2.    The New York times

3.    EMAAR

4.    Alibaba Group

What is React Native?

React Native is a framework for building apps based on device-specific software and hardware. React Native apps function on operating systems, including Mac & Windows for Desktop, Android & iOS for mobile devices. React Native gives Mobile App Development companies the ability to use native code for making their apps powerful. React Native is written in JavaScript and communicates with the native languages using a JavaScript bridge.

With the idea of “many platforms sharing one technology,” Facebook released React Native in 2015. By 2018, React Native got lots of love from the community, and it quickly rose to fame and had the second-largest no. of contributors on Github. The latest version of React Native is 0.62, released on March 26, 2020.

Some Organizations using React Native for their mobile application are:

1.    Facebook

2.    Instagram

3.    Skype

4.    Oculus

Which Framework to Choose?

Choosing the framework to use depends a lot on your specific requirements because both of these tools have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Here are a few criteria that help you select the framework that fits your needs: -

1. Programming Language

Not all programmers are comfortable with all programming languages. So, when it comes to choosing either of the two frameworks, programming language makes a lot of difference. React Native uses JavaScript language, whereas Flutter uses the Dart programming language.

Dart is a relatively new language and doesn’t have much exposure in the programming community, whereas JavaScript is known and loved by all web developers. Though Dart is new, its syntax is easy to understand for JavaScript and Java Developers because it supports most of the Object-Oriented Programming concepts.

 

Both of these frameworks, of course, allow you to work with platform-specific native languages - Swift and Object C/C++ for iOS, and Kotlin/Java for Android. So, Flutter will have a steeper learning curve as compared to React Native.

2. User-Interface

The critical difference between Flutter and React Native would be the difference in the User-Interface. React Native apps have a native app-like design and Interface, whereas Flutter apps have the beautiful Google Material Design experience.

React Native works directly with Native Components and hence gives the developer a great control over the user interface components. So, a button on iOS would look like a native iOS Button, and the same goes for a button on Android.

Flutter, on the other hand, works on Google’s Proprietary widget sets. A Flutter app would look similar across all operating systems, thanks to Material Design Widgets, and Android-style Cupertino Widget sets.

3. Popularity

React Native has been in the industry since 2015, whereas Flutter is the new kid in school(since 2018). Since React Native has been long in the industry, it has a broader community of developers working on it and hence has better community support than Flutter.

If we look at the number of contributors on Github, we can see that React Native has 2000+ contributors, whereas Flutter has around 500 contributors as of May 2020. Hence, React Native seems to be more stable as opposed to Flutter. However, Flutter has also been rapidly gaining popularity, and lots of developers seem to enjoy working with Flutter.

4. Development Time / Performance

Flutter, by default, comes with lots of Widgets, whereas the no. of widgets with React Native are less. The key difference that these widgets make is to the development time of a mobile application.

Due to the easy availability of widgets in Flutter, a mobile app developer can get their apps to the market faster. With React Native, on the other hand, a developer would have to customize and, in essence, create a widget from scratch using the basic components provided in the respective operating system.

Not only does it take less time to develop a Flutter app, but the performance of the Mobile application is also faster because it communicates directly with the native modules. In contrast, React Native apps communicate via a JavaScript bridge, resulting in slightly lower performance.

Conclusion

React apps as well as Flutter apps have their own sets of advantages and disadvantages. The right choice for you would depend on a variety of factors, including things such as the availability of developers, budget, time, focus on UI/UX vs. functionality, etc.

If your developers know Dart / Java, Flutter is the better choice. If your developers are comfortable with JavaScript, React Native would be the right choice. If your company’s focus is on providing a beautiful UI that follows the latest design standards, Flutter is the best choice. Whereas, if you want to create custom layouts and designs, React Native would be a better choice.

Consider having a consultation with an experienced mobile app developer or an experienced Mobile App Development Company if you are still unable to make a decision.

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